I’m halfway through my second week at Uni, and all I can say is that I’m absolutely exhausted both physically and mentally. It’s tiring enough walking there and back every day (it takes me half an hour, but on the plus side I am already fitter than I was), but the worst thing is the feeling of being disorganised even before considering what work is required by which course element. Mentally, I’m already all over the place just walking from one building to another. Before I get there, even, I’ve had to decide what I need to take because I’ll be carrying it about with me all day.
Then there’s the texts that need to be read, the references to explore, some lecturers use one place to store their lecture slides and course notes, others use another. So much for living in a networked world! I can spend an hour on the internet at home just following links and searching through the faculty site.
On the other hand, I’m still stunned by the wide expanse of detailed knowledge and experience that exists within the other people on my course. We have already been asked to put forward a title for our first piece of independent work for the Interdisciplinary Thinking module. Mine – unless I change my mind – will be looking at why non-male gamers are (still) the subject of online abuse, from the disciplinary perspectives of feminist psychology and networks. I’ll let you know what some of the other titles of my cohort will be as soon as I can, but basically a) this can’t be exactly what we do for our PhD’s and b) we have to produce a poster and a report in response to our question. We don’t actually have to carry out the research, just review the information and academic papers that already exist, and draw a conclusion. I’ve never gamed on-line, so I have no personal experience of abuse, but I’ve been reading about it (and discussing it in media classes) for a while, so it seemed a good opportunity to explore something that already interests me in more detail.
The toughest modules are going to be the ones that focus on web architecture (already stuff on http and html and coding which is challenging) and quantitive analysis (statistics, means, standard deviation, distribution curves…..sigh). The others – foundations of web science, qualitative analysis and interdisciplinary thinking – I think I’m going to find more straightforward.
One of the people who interviewed me later suggested that the hardest thing about teaching ex-teachers is that they still think like teachers. As the time, I thought I was different, but I’ve discovered that I’m not. What I want is specific assessment criteria, a clear end result, and a clear pathway there. My mind has been running along very defined lines for over ten years, and the first thing I need to do is free it from its shackles and let it roam free through the world of academia. That’s going to be harder than anything I’ve ever done.